Congratulating the Fairfield Inn & Suites
Small Business Challenge Winner: ecycler

During the Fairfield Challenge, ecycler exceeded its goals of improving the environment, enhancing the social value of recycling and supporting local communities.

Here's how we did it:

During our visits to 13 cities (15 total stays), using Fairfield Inns as our base, we spread word to numerous businesses and individuals about how ecycler can help them recycle for free. We posted ecycler posters at grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants in all of the cities we visited as a way to encourage discarders to join.

While in Michigan we met with one of our Collectors who picked up the largest discard of cans to date to get feedback from him and learn more about his salvage business. In Lansing, Michigan, we met with the Michigan Recycling Coalition about developing a partnership with that organization. During a stop in Colorado Springs, Colorado, we met a woman who said she doesn't recycle at all because she has to pay a fee to do so. By signing up on ecycler.com, she can now recycle and save money at the same time.

As a result of our efforts on these trips, hundreds of new users have registered on ecycler.com. These new discarders and collectors will help keep cans, bottles and newspapers from clogging up landfills. Local communities will benefit because the collectors will earn extra income that can be pumped back into the local economy. It will also encourage people who haven't recycled before to start.

As part of the challenge, we also utilized social media channels to reach potential discarders and collectors. The Fairfield Inn in Champaign, IL made a cameo appearance in our ongoing YouTube "Crush that Can" video series, a humorous look at all the ways people can crush aluminum cans for the purpose of recycling. In this video, we crushed a can using a hotel ice bucket (don't worry, no ice buckets were harmed). YouTube is an increasingly important way to engage with people, especially young people, who scour the Internet for funny videos.

Some of our favorite social media channels:

We also utilized twitter to update our followers on our progress and to provide tips for how to be green. Our posting of Top 20 Ways to Make your Business Greener yielded almost 30 retweets between the Fairfield Challenge Blog and our own ecycler Blog. At the beginning of the contest we had 3149 followers and now have almost 9000 (as of Jan 2011).

Our blogs and other social media communications captured the attention of others, which just helped spread the word further. For example, we were featured on the following blog: MakeUSEof. Blogs that we wrote for the Fairfield blog site got picked up by other media and retweeted. For example, a posting we wrote about the Top 20 Ways to Make your Business Greener yielded over 30 retweets between the Fairfield Challenge Blog and our own ecycler Blog.

Radio host Kim Komando, whose weekly three-hour call-in talk show is heard on more than 470 stations, chose ecycler as a "Cool Site of the Day" on Nov. 15 in conjunction with America Recycles Day.

Another one of our goals for the future is to add scrap metal and appliances to the items that can be recycled via ecycler. During our trips we heard from potential discarders that there is growing demand for this kind of service.

Ecycler won the Fairfield Challenge because there is nothing more important than the sustainability of our planet, and our site is doing its part - and encouraging legions of people around the country to do theirs - to help protect the Earth.

Official Marriott Press Release: Fairfield Inn & Suites Awards ecycler $20,000 Grand Prize in Small Business Contest